Not Really Supreme

supreme court

After the verdict of supreme court on Ayodhya, the words of justice JS Verma that supreme court is supreme but not infallible, becomes more relevant.

Often sitting before television and watching hotly news debates over Ayodhya dispute with full of fiery assertive slogan like mandir wahin banayenge (temple will be built there only) has become a part of my entertainment. I always thought and laughed that these gentlemen are no more than spokespersons of a specific political party, where on the other hand, the host just has the appetite of TRP and is inciting them against other guests but their claims are damn high. Now, when the judgement of the Court is out, it is difficult to digest that how these insane voices of news channels’ studios turned out to be a judgement of the court.

The decision made by the court was unanimous though but the ground, upon which it was based on, was very secretive. It is not known yet. Calling the judgement unnatural is not attributed with the discretionary power of the court but to question its sagacious disposition. Because so far, apart from a Mosque ( Babri masjid), if the Ayodhya findings, by Archaeological Survey of India(ASI), not clearly favoured muslims’ claim over the land, it also failed to give a proper evidence for the existence of a temple there ever. The first excavation took place before independence under Alexander Cunningham in 1862-63. It found the remnants of a Buddhist structure. In Post-independece, the first survey done by AK Narayanan of Benaras Hindu University in 1969-70. He also failed to find any temple remains.

The final survey was conducted in 2002-03, when BJP was in the power. This survey reported that a huge structure happened to be existed before the Mosque. The survey got into controversy to be biased towards establishing the Hindu antecedents of the disputed site. The controversy got more aired when in the same year of excavation two islamic graves excavated from the site. Reacting over which former ASI director MC Joshi said,” there is no question of finding a temple there. I have been saying it repeatedly.  They seem to be still excavating in the Indo-Islamic period and the evidence so far suggests a muslim habitation”. Another Archaeologist, Suraj Bhan, from Kurukshetra University concurring Joshi said,” if there was a temple of that size, its existance would have been confirmed now”.

Late Ram Sharan Sharma, a prominent historian who taught ancient and early medieval History of India at Patna and Delhi University, writes that when he visited 15 or 16 temples in Ayodhya, the Priests in each temple claimed their temple as real janmabhoomi (birth place of Rama). While the late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee himself admitted in 1984 that it is impossible to point where Rama was exactly born. Citing these views and findings why one should not call it an absurd judgement?, a ramification of farraginous factors working in synchronous.

Like- firstly, a strong central government representing right-wing ideology whose one of the political ambitions was the construction of Ram temple. There was no religious affiliation with the temple as it seemed throughout. On 14 April 2000 the late Sushma Swaraj admitted that temple movement was purely political in nature and had nothing to do with religion..

It lies in the nature of Supreme Court to adapt itself with changing nature of power at central level i.e central government. When it races parallel with a strong centre it hardly put its leg on accelerator rather prefers to control itself through brakes. The very prototype instance of it is the period of national emergency, 1975-77. The famous ADM Jabalpur vs Shiv Kant Shukla case where rights of citizens were taken away and the Court bowed down to this diktat of the government.

Secondly, the upper caste Hindus’ Earnestness for temple. It would be inappropriate to call the demand of temple a subject to unanimous Hindu identity. It is because amongst Hindus only, there are believers of different Gods like Shiva, Brahma etc. Thus, calling the agitation a majoritarion demand is not suitable. They (upper caste Hindus) are just nearly 24% of total population but put forth the entire stir in a way it seemed like general public opinion. This was based on a very influential idea called court of public opinion where mass media is used to influence public support for some case in the court. Remember the case of Afzal Guru where Supreme court first set aside his custodial confession of crime citing lapses and violation of procedural safeguards. Again, BJP was in power. It gave an outcry- Desh abhi sharminda hai, Afzal abhi bhi zinda hai ( our nation is ashamed because Afzal is still alive). Soon after this hullabaloo, court awarded him capital punishment.

Thirdly, the role of upper caste-dominated Indian media remained very crucial. It became successful in replacing the issue of drowning economy with Ram temple as the core agenda in country’s national interest by organising hotly debates for hours in their respective studios.

It was an appropriate and perhaps the high time when the apex court would have taken a stand against the so called hurling majoritarion view and have resisted the political supremacy against it which often tarnish its image. If it could not deliver a verdict pleasing both the parties, Hindus and Muslims, it must has gone with the earlier judgement of Allahabad high court in 2010. The current verdict has opened the gate for more such disputed cases and it seems it had created its own Achilles’ heel.

Alsaba Binyamin is pursuing MA at Aligarh Muslim University




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